Just a quick note here to let you know that I will be posting for IWSG soon, but the evening got away from me and I need to crash.
Hey, it’s the first Wednesday of the month, so that means it’s time for the February 2013 edition of Insecure Writers’ Support Group. This time, I’m going to take the opportunity to talk about something that I’ve been learning even though I feel very insecure about it: drawing.
I’ve never felt confident about drawing or painting or much else in the visual arts. When I think of art class back in school, I remember lots of crazy conversations with my friends and classmates, but also a bit of dread as I took my assignments to the teacher to face grading and evaluation. Though I’ve found some satisfaction in doing fanart compositions over the years, those have always seemed very different from original artwork – they were all about finding something that already looked good, measuring and balancing it, as opposed to creating something from a pencil held in my own fingers.
But I was interested in the idea of being able to be good at art, at being able to actually do illustrations for my stories – if not something good enough that I’d want it to be a finished product, then at least being good enough at sketching that I could show an idea I had to another artist who could refine it and make it better. I’m a very visual thinker in a lot of ways, so it was frustrating not being able to express myself in that way as well as I could with words.
I was interested when my brother first mentioned the drawing book he’d gotten a copy of, ‘Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain’, and borrowed it when he gave me a chance to – and promptly did nothing with it, for months on end, until he asked for it back. Partly, I guess I was scared of trying and finding out that I was hopeless.
But I got the book back late last year, put starting it on my October to-do list, and actually felt excited and creative enough after the Nanowrimo kick-off party last year to finally dive in. And – well, I’m still not a good artist, I’d say, but I’m better at certain skills than I thought I was, and I’ve improved in just the few months that I’ve been working on it. If I keep working, I know I’ll keep improving, and who knows where I’ll end up?
I’ll share a few of my earliest drawings today – these are the ‘pre-instruction sketches’ that are supposed to demonstrate how much my skills improve, like the before picture. I guess I’ll be doing ‘after’ drawings once I finish the book. First, a self-portrait that I did in a mirror: Read the rest of this entry »
Well, it’s the first Wednesday of the month, and time to check in with the Insecure Writer’s Support Group and share some of our troubles and/or encouragement with fellow insecure writers.
I’ve already unloaded a bit about how hard I’m finding it to start writing new short stories. Partly that’s because I’ve learned so much lately about what a good short story needs to do – to show us the most important thing that happens in a character’s life, show them struggling against a great obstacle and taking charge of their own fate, and growing as a person.
And as I try to think of story ideas, there are the nattering ghosts of doubt that keep whispering in my ear, “That’s a cliche idea, everybody’s done it already.” “Nobody’s cared about that sort of science fiction story since you were four years old.” “That twist doesn’t add anything to the setup.” “What will you ever do for an ending?”
I’ve also been feeling insecure about just how much time I can, or should, throw into my writing, and how long I can keep it up. But I’ve also come to realize that these issues will sort themselves out. I’ll have made progress on the short story front by the end of February.
Whatever it is that we insecure writers have challenging us, we can make it. I know.
I wouldn’t say that I’m a terribly insecure writer, but I’m not that secure in my success either, and there’s a lot of stuff that’s been going on in my creative life the last little while to make me more uncertain of things that I’d trusted in before. More than that, though, I’ve been a big believer, for months, in the value of writers supporting other writers, and it’s really hard to get powerful support if you’re not in a space where it’s safe to let your insecurities out.
So, I guess that’s what I should be doing here. I feel like going to Kansas this summer, for all that I learned, was a big one-two punch to my self-confidence and showed everybody there that I don’t really know how to put a short story together. And then there was the Storywonk class, in which I dissected one of my favorite novella manuscripts and realized that it had too little conflict running through its veins, and a somewhat misshapen skeleton.
But I do know that none of this is a reason to stop trying, to stop engaging with my stories. I’ve resolved to go back to the short story side for September, to keep working on editing all the shorts in my portfolio that I don’t feel completely hopeless on, and to kick ass critiquing stories for other people, on critters.org, in the Kansas online alumni circle and for the Toronto convention writers triangle.
And I will always remember, if not the exact words, the sense of the message at the bottom of the congratulatory certificate that my local Hamilton ML’s, Gale and Rhonda, gave me at the National Novel Writing Month TGIO party last winter:
“We who are about to write, salute you.
We who have written, envy you.
We who will write, will support you in all your writing endeavours.”